Women ask me the BEST questions!
Since I moved into this field of pregnancy and postnatal wellbeing, the funniest thing has been happening – I now get asked all manner of questions I never thought I’d be asked when I started my OT career.
In one-to-one appointments, group Pilates classes, Facebook forums and even at fancy-pants awards dinners, women start asking me the most awesome questions whenever I tell them what it is that I do.
Here’s a few of the questions I’ve had in just the past week – and my answers.
Q: “I just realised that since I started Pilates, I haven’t needed to wear a Tena-lady anymore when I go running – could that be due to the Pilates?”
A: Yes!! Pilates is awesome! (ps, this lady was talking about Pilates with another instructor – who is clearly awesome – so I’m not blowing my own trumpet here!)
No Tena Lady required!
Q: “If I had a pelvic organ prolapse, would I know about it?”
A: Not necessarily, there are different stages of prolapse, and in the early stages the prolapse is still contained within your body – it’s not until the late stages that “things pop out” of your body – so if something doesn’t seem quite right with your lady parts – get it checked out by your gynaecologist or women’s health physio.
Keep those pelvic organs right where they should be!
Q: I had a C-section, do I still need to worry about pelvic floor rehab?
A: Yes, definitely. It’s not just birth that puts strain on the pelvic floor. Nine months of your little baby bouncing up and down on that collection of muscles will definitely stretch and strain the pelvic floor. Rehab is always recommended after pregnancy – no matter what type of delivery, it may just be a different level of rehab.
Pelvic floor rehab is for all women, no matter what type of birth you had.
Q: What’s the minimum amount of time to wait between pregnancies, from a physical recovery perspective?
This is a tricky one, and we really need to look at it from a functional perspective, rather than on a timeline. It would definitely be advised to wait until any diastasis recti (abdominal separation) is healed and core strength is restored, ditto for pelvic floor difficulties. So you need to be physically “put back together” in order to give your body the best chance of staying strong during your next pregnancy and recovering again post-pregnancy. But women also need to consider how well their hormonal levels have rebalanced, and how well their nutritional stores have recovered. If women are still nutritionally and hormonally depleted when they conceive again, then this will put an added strain on their body during that subsequent pregnancy. This would differ for every woman. I dare say many women don’t get back to being fully functional and balanced before getting pregnant again, even if a year or two has passed since they gave birth, and this can lead to increased risk of further and more pronounced dysfunction through the second pregnancy.
Ready for baby number two?
So there you have it – just a few of the conversations I have with women every day! I truly have an awesome job.
Now over to you. Do you have a burning question? Feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to respond anonymously on my Facebook page in a Q&A post.
Alternatively, you could always join my Body Mind Baby program, which begins in Adelaide on Thursday, March 17. Find out more about it here, or call me on 0432 420 846 if you want to chat about it in person.
Until next time,
Be well and live your best life.
Cheers, Sarah xx
“So you’re a Occupational Therapist for Mums? I thought OTs just worked with kids?”
This is a comment I get quite a lot! Mostly because the field of Women’s Health OT is pretty new – particularly in the area of post-natal wellbeing. But that’s cool, because while it means that “OT for Mums” is not well known, it’s super-exciting (for me at least!).
So while you may not have heard much about the work OTs do with Mums, we can and do play a vital role – particularly for new Mums adjusting to the enormous demands of being a parent.
Becoming a Mum is about so much more than just caring for a baby. It’s also about caring for yourself. Creating, learning, developing and nurturing your new “occupation” of motherhood – it’s a lot more involved than simply changing nappies and choosing the right brand of stroller!
Motherhood is an occupation so vast that it changes EVERY single aspect of your life. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually – you are never quite the same person you were once you’ve become a Mum. And you’ll never be the same again.
It’s an enormous adjustment on so many levels. And, unfortunately, in today’s society we don’t live in the “village” culture of yesteryear where we would observe and instinctually learn all we need to know about being a Mum from the other women around us.
This is why new Mums in our society need to seek out this support and professional advice. Which is where Occupational Therapy comes in.
At its heart, the profession of Occupational Therapy is all about helping people to function optimally in the different roles within their life – and what more important role is there than being a Mum?
As a mum of two young girls myself, I am passionate about post-natal health and wellbeing.
Throughout my work and personal life, I’ve seen first hand the impact of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting on the emotional and physical wellbeing and functioning of new mums. Mostly positive impacts, but sadly, there are so often also negative impacts. And these negative impacts can be life altering if women aren’t provided with the right support, information and guidance on how to adjust to, and overcome, these impacts.
Which is why I created Bloom Wellbeing, my Women’s Health OT private practice. With 15 years of experience as an OT in the fields of vocational rehabilitation, mental health and physical rehabilitation, I realised I could use my knowledge and experience from these varied areas, and apply them to the specific needs of new mums. All those skills and all that knowledge I’d learned could be used to help new Mums overcome many of the physical and emotional conditions common to post-natal women.
Through Bloom Wellbeing it’s my ultimate goal to recreate that “village”, to support women to adjust to the physical and emotional demands of motherhood. To bring women together, to share information, guidance and support, with the main aim being to assist women to avoid or recover from injuries, or simply improve their general health and wellbeing after having a baby.
I’d love for you to join me in this village!
Everywhere I turn these days I keep hearing, seeing and reading about how much weight women have (and should!) put on during their pregnancy. This, of course, is closely followed by how and when they should “shift the baby weight”, once they’ve popped that little blighter out of their expanded bellies.
All this baby weight talk irritates me. It seriously does.
Not because it’s not important. I’m not brazen enough to suggest we should totally ignore weight loss and gain as an indicator of health and wellbeing.
What really cranks me up is how often it is seen as the ONLY gauge of health – and post-natal health in particular. This is complete BS. Especially when it comes to post-natal health.
The realm of post-natal health and wellbeing is enormous – and no I’m not just talking about the DD cups you sprouted on Day 3 post-birth. What I’m talking about is the crazy hormone roller-coaster that can go on for months, indeed years, during and post-pregnancy. Then there’s also the structural changes and injuries which can cause disability and dysfunction post-pregnancy. And let’s not forget social and psychological wellbeing.
So let me think – what’s more important for a new mother than “losing the baby weight”?
Restoring hormonal imbalance. Reducing stress. Overcoming fatigue and sleep deprivation. Addressing anxiety and depression. Rebuilding their core strength and pelvic floor integrity. Recovering from carpal tunnel and other pregnancy related neurological disorders. Repairing a diastasis recti. Dealing with lower back pain, pelvic girdle pain, upper back pain, neck and shoulder pain. Restoring nutrient deficiencies. Emotionally adjusting to their new role as a mother and potential loss of other life roles – such as worker, monetary provider, friend. Reigniting a sexual relationship with their partner.
I could list more, but I’m pretty sure you get the point.
All of these things affect a new mum’s health and wellbeing. In most cases significantly more than whether or not she can rock a two piece at the beach.
But there’s also a secondary, more sinister, issue with this focus on baby weight. Because when the societal pressure to drop that weight hits, many women will resort to measures which will actually endanger their health – not restore it. I’m talking meal replacements, ridiculously low calorie diets, consuming zero-nutrient diet-foods and embarking on extreme physical training programs for which their recovering body is still not ready. These actions are NOT HEALTHY. But so many new mums head down this path, because they feel the eyes of the world on them. Much like Kim Kardashian’s rumoured resolution not to appear in public with her baby until she’d lost the weight. Because a mummy is only valuable when she’s “yummy” right?
Come on. A little bit of perspective please.
I’m not saying don’t talk about weight gain and weight loss. But let’s consider it in relation to everything else going on in a new mum’s life and body. Because at the end of the day, health and weight do not necessarily have a linear relationship.
And to all you new mums – this is my message to you. Don’t worry about your weight – just focus on your health and your baby’s health – because that’s what is really important. Now, I would love to say – “focus on your health and a killer body will come your way as a result”. But I can’t in all honesty say that. What I can promise you, however, is that if you look after your health, your body will look after you. You will be strong, fit and healthy enough to take on whatever life (and that new little bubba) can throw at you. Whether you’re wearing a bikini or not.